Maria is a 15 year-old-girl from Southern Sudan; she fled her village after war broke out and her parents were killed by the militia. Tragically, Maria was abducted and forced to live as a house wife of the militia for one year. Finally, Maria and another woman manged to escape from their captors.
Maria ended up at a nearby church that was able to arrange for her to come to Nairobi, where she was taken to the UNHCR offices, who referred her to Heshima Kenya for care and protection. Initially, Maria was incredibly traumatized – she cried frequently and could not communicate as she only spoke the Dinka language and Arabic. Heshima Kenya brought in an interpreter for her so that the program staff would understand and be able to provide for her immediate needs. She was placed in the Safe House so she would have a safe place to stay; she was also enrolled into special counselling services, received immediate medical attention, and began to slowly work to build her hope and confidence.
Today, Maria has started to learn English; she works with a volunteer teacher daily who teaches her to speak and write. She loves spedning time with her new friends in the Safe House - plaiting other girls’ hair, crocheting and dancing. She also participates in peer support activities organized in the Safe House. Though she acknowledges that she still very much misses her family and her sense of belonging; she states her life has been transformed. “I finally feel like I have found a family again, a mother and a friend in Heshima Kenya. I would love to continue with my studies and become a nurse just like my new found mother in the Safe House”, says Maria.
Thanks to your support, Heshima Kenya is able to continue working hard to ensure that Maria’s best interests are determined and all of her needs are met. With ongoing support, we can continue to care for Maira and the many young women like her. Thank you again!
Chantal is a 16-year-old girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was born with a physical disability that makes it difficult to walk. Her parents separated when she was very young and Chantal was sent to live with her elder sister, Momo. Her sister took good care of her, providing love and support, taking her to hospital whenever she needed medical attention. One night in 2013, as they were sleeping in their small thatched house, Chantal heard children screaming and women wailing. She peeped through a hole in the wall and was shocked to see militia men walking towards their door. Chantal was abducted by the militia men and taken to their camp where her days of abuse at their hands soon turned into months. In 2014, government soldiers finally came and destroyed the camp and a kind woman helped Chantal escape. After two weeks travelling by truck and already five months pregnant, Chantal arrived in Kenya where she gave birth in March 2015 to a bouncing baby girl. Due to her special needs as a disabled mother, Chantal was referred to the Safe House for care and protection.
When she arrived at the Safe House, Chantal was extremely sad and discouraged. She missed her sister and was extremely traumatized by the abuse she faced before leaving the Congo. She would not make eye contact with anyone, she could not understand Kiswahili, and she lay in bed mute much of the day. She was also unable to carry her new baby because of her disability. Recognizing her needs, our Case Management team quickly enrolled Chantal into counselling and life skills activities; fellow residents and program staff members jumped in to help support her with her baby. Slowly but surely, she started talking with the residents and speaking up in house meetings.
Now, just two months later, Chantal can smile, she can communicate in English, she dresses smartly, and she is happy. She is enrolled in a physiotherapy program with the Association of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya (APDK) where she is receiving walking training and a special shoe to help her walk. She is confident; attending Heshima Kenya education classes, and no longer needs support to carry her baby. She finds her life transformed through Heshima Kenya and she hopes that one day she will get a good job so that she can provide for her growing daughter, whom she named Blessings.
Chantal says “I want to be a counsellor so that I can assist children in the community to deal with their predicaments well.” She loves to smile and she is full of life, despite all she has been through.
Thank you for your support. By donating to our Safe House, you make recovery stories like Chantal’s a real possibility. Your generosity is changing lives every day and we thank you.
Aziza, a 15-year-old mother from Ethiopia, came to our Safe House in 2012. She was separated from her parents after her father was taken by the police and her mother disappeared, leaving her in the care of a community member. Aziza was then sent to Kenya and placed in the care of a man who forced her into marriage, resulting in her pregnancy.
After going to the hospital to give birth, Aziza told a social worker about her predicament and was put in touch with Heshima Kenya. When Aziza first entered the Safe House, she was very vulnerable. She was constantly fearful, while also dealing with the challenges of becoming a new, young mother. Through the support of Heshima Kenya staff, she received individual counselling sessions from the program staff, and was referred to Center for Victims of Torture, a partner organization, to help her deal with trauma. With the help of Safe House staff, she learned how to properly care for her newborn baby.
Currently, Aziza lives in the Safe House with her daughter and has a very positive attitude about herself and her futute. She is registered as an asylum seeker with UNHCR, and possesses self-confidence, and a growing self-esteem. Aziza has learned to take care of herself and baby. She enjoys cooking and playing football and her daughter has grown into a healthy toddler.
Aziza talks of the future and her dream of becoming a teacher. She also hopes to sensitize the communities to protect girls from early marriage. She says:
“I was married off at the age of 13 years to an old man who did not care about me at all. I was hidden from everyone. I had no official identification papers to use when seeking services. I will work hard to ensure that I protect my daughter from early marriage. I really feel so safe now”.
Thanks to supporters like you, Aziza can have a safe place to call home and dreams of a better world for her child.We thank you for your generous contribution.
Sumaya is a 13 year-old Ethiopian girl, who resides in the Safe House with along with her five siblings. Sumaya was born in Ethiopia but later moved with her family to Djibouti because of war. While in Djibouti, her father was abducted and never seen again. After her father’s disappearance, the family experienced a good deal insecurity, forcing them to flee Djibouti. While fleeing towards Kenya, Sumaya’s mother also disappeared. However, determined to seek safety, Sumaya and her siblings continued on their journey. Once they arrived in Nairobi, a community member offered the children a place to stay. While their shelter was temporarily taken care of, Sumaya and her siblings still needed an income for food, and other necessities, forcing her and her 16-year-old sister to find odd jobs, such as selling tea to community members. While working in the community, the UNHCR identified Sumaya and her siblings as unaccompanied children at risk and referred them to the Safe House.
When Sumaya first entered the Safe House, she was very withdrawn and lethargic, sleeping throughout the day. She would express feelings of loss for her parents and did not participate in activities in the community. At first, she did not want to be enrolled in the education program and hoped to have a limited stay in the Safe House. However as days passed, Sumaya accepted the security of the Safe House, realizing this might be the safe place she had been seeking for her siblings. Through individual and group counseling provided by the program staff, Sumaya‘s attitude and feelings have gradually shifted; she is now more relaxed, volunteers to participate in life-skills activities, and is fully engaged in artistic activities. Sumaya continues to overcome her past fears and is working everyday to build her self-confidence. She was enrolled in our education program, and continues to thrive in her classes. She also participates actively in life skills programs, assisting in facilitating sessions for young children and enjoys reciting poems.
Sumaya says “I am happy being in the Safe House with all my siblings. At first it was hard but now am coping well. I have made friends. I am confident, I love to dance and recite poems.” Despite all the hardships Sumaya has been through, she is positive that one day she will be reunited with her mother. Her dream is to become a child psychologist.
Thank you again for your support and commitment to Heshima Kenya. Your generous donation makes it possible for young girls, like Sumaya to begin to lead safe and enjoyable lives
Marie is a 16-year-old girl who fled the Congo during conflicts in her village. Early in 2013, rebels attacked the village and took away her parents, leaving Marie alone in the house. She was terrified, but she managed to hide from the rebels by sliding under the bed. After she deemed it safe to come out, she met some women who were also seeking safety, and they found a truck carrying people from the village. With no other options, Marie joined the women and children in the truck. She immediately fell asleep from exhaustion and shock. When a man’s shouting awoke her abruptly, she found herself in a different country, forced out of the truck and completely on her own. After struggling to survive by herself in Kenya, she was rescued and taken in by a host family. From there, she was ultimately identified and assisted by UNHCR. As she was unable to continue staying with the family, she was referred to Heshima Kenya for shelter.
Marie is currently enjoying her stay at the Heshima Kenya Safe House, where she has built friendships with other residents and is obtaining basic education and counseling. Aside from providing a secure, warm environment for our girls to heal, our Safe House also recognizes the importance that games and recreational activities play. The Safe House residents spend time playing games every evening, including board games, puzzles, tower building games, ball games and activities like “Zumba dance.” This helps the children to identify new skills, learn how to solve problems, improve their attitude toward their peers, develop motivation for life tasks such as learning, exercise creativity, express feelings and needs, and formulate their daily requests and demands. It is observed that the residents who participate in games build their self-esteem easily, develop self-confidence, and gain a sense of self-identity and conflict resolution skills.
Marie loves playing games at the Safe House; it helps her relax with her peers and enjoy her life. She has learned to interact and build meaningful relationships with fellow residents and community members. Ultimately, Marie feels that she has found another family in Heshima Kenya. These activities and games have allowed her to be a child again, enjoy her free time and maintain a positive outlook. Her goal is to continue her education and find a job as a youth counselor, so she can help other young women like her.
“Throughout my life I never owned any toys to play with. My parents could not afford to buy games. I had problems with learning new things especially games because I did not have access to them. When I came to the Safe House, I was surprised to see all the toys and games that I yearned to have when I was growing up. You can have whatever game you want and most of the times we use them as we conduct group discussions to break the ice. I love doing the hula hoop because I exercise my body, I laugh a lot and we share life experiences with my friends a lot too. I love to play and learn different games a lot,” says Marie.
Support from you helps our girls, like Marie, to experience safety, security and to play and make friends like all children should. We thank you for your support!
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